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Historic Beer Birthday: Frank Hahne

Today is the birthday of Frank J. Hahne (March 31, 1856-1932). He was born in Neiderfeleris, Germany, an orphan, but made his way to the U.S. when he was 19, in 1875, and found a job in a Milwaukee brewery. He moved around to different brewery jobs across the country, eventually coming to Pennsylvania, and fews later settling in DuBois. Arriving in 1896, he founded the DuBois Brewing Co. either that year or 1897, sources seem mixed. The brewery survived prohibition, with his son, Frank Jr. taking over, and the brewery stayed in business until 1973, but the business had been sold to Pittsburgh Brewing in 1967.

Here’s a biography of Hahne from the “Twentieth Century History of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, and Representative Citizens,” by Roland D. Swoope, Jr., published in 1911:

FRANK HAHNE, who is identified with many of the leading enterprises of DuBois, Pa., has been a resident of this borough since 1896. He was born in Germany, March 31, 1856, and being left an orphan when quite young, has mainly made his own way in the world and stands today as a telling example of what an honest, right-minded, hard working boy can become.

Mr. Hahne attended the excellent German schools and at the age of seventeen years started to learn the brewer’s trade. In 1875 he came to America in search of better industrial conditions, landing in Milwaukee, Wis., where he found employment in a brewery. One year later he went to Iowa, where he worked at his trade for three years, when, having accumulated some capital, he took up Government claims in South Dakota, where he engaged in farming for two years. In 1881 he became a resident of Chicago, Ill., and there again went into the brewing business and remained until 1887, at which time he went to Allegheny. He was there until 1896, and then came to DuBois, where his business interests have been extensively developed.

When Mr. Hahne decided that this Pennsylvania town offered excellent business opportunities, he organized first the DuBois Brewing Company and was made its president. The plant at the beginning was not more than one-half the size of the present one but the growth of the enterprise has been continuous, under Mr. Hahne’s judicious management and the time will come when the present commodious quarters on South Main Street, on the B. R. & P. Railroad, will have to be enlarged and still better facilities provided. It is a growing business. The buildings are of brick construction and an average of eighty men are employed. The main office is at DuBois, Pa., with branch offices at Buffalo, N. Y., and Newark, N. J. In connection with the brewery proper, the company has a complete ice plant and by contract, the Hygienic Ice Company takes all their over-production of ice. In addition to supplying the local trade from the brewery, shipments are made to many points, including Hamilton, Canada. The main brands of beer manufactured are: DuBois Budweiser, DuBois Wurzburger, Hahne’s Export and Hahne’s Porter. The officers of the DuBois Brewing Company are well known capitalists. Frank Hahne is president; J. Weil, is vice president; Frank I. Schwem is treasurer, and M. I. McCreight is secretary. Mr. Hahne is also president of the DuBois Storage and Carting Company; is a director of the DuBois Electric and Traction Company; a director of the United Traction Company, and formerly was president of the J. Mahler Glass Company which sold out to the American-French Belgium Glass Company, in 1909.

Mr. Hahne has also prospered as a farmer and stock raiser. He manages a farm of 180 acres of valuable land belonging to the Brewing Company and situated near Luthersburg, in Clearfield County, where he has a large orchard selected by the state as a model demonstrating orchard. He is much interested in the breeding of thoroughbred horses and cattle, making a specialty of Percherons and Holsteins. His 1800-pound Percheron stallion, DuBois, has taken many blue ribbons when exhibited. Improvements of every kind have been made on this farm and Mr. Hahne has been heard to express the wish that he may spend his last years in the midst of these beautiful surroundings.

On May 30, 1883, Mr. Hahne was married first to Miss Carrie A. Trom, of Chicago, Ill., who died in 1896. Four children were born to that union, namely: Emelia T., Maria A., Frank John and Carolla A. In 1900, Mr. Hahne was married secondly to Mrs. Maria Strey, whose death occurred May 16, 1910. Mr. Hahne and children are members of the Roman Catholic church. He is identified fraternally with the Elks, at DuBois, and socially with the Acorn Club of DuBois and the German Club, of Pittsburg. He belongs also to the Pennsylvania Brewer’s Association. In 1903 Mr. Hahne erected his substantial and comfortable dwelling on South Main Street, DuBois, which has been the family home ever since.

As I mentioned, there was some confusion about the brewery’s founding date, which is addressed on the Wikipedia page for the town of DuBois, Pennsylvania:

There seems to be some debate as to exactly when Frank Hahne came to DuBois and broke ground on his own facility. One source claims 1898, another 1897. It seems most likely that this occurred between April and the end of 1896. It was on April 16, 1896, that the DuBois Weekly Courier reported: “Some new developments in connection with the brewery may be looked for in the near future.”

There were a number of reasons Hahne chose the DuBois site for his facility, but the most frequently cited was the excellence of the water supply. He purchased 2,300 acres (9.3 km2) surrounding the local reservoir to protect the watershed from pollution.

By 1906, the brewery had four products on the market: DuBois Wurzburger, Hahne’s Export Pilsener, DuBois Porter, and DuBois Budweiser. The Budweiser name would be at the center of controversy for 60 years between DuBois Brewing and Anheuser-Busch.

The DuBois brands soon traveled far and wide for a brewery of its size, ranging up to 150 miles (240 km) away and selling well in Buffalo, Erie and Pittsburgh. The brewery’s 300-barrel kettle was kept busy churning out brands, while the left-over grain materials were pressed and sold for cattle feed and grist mills in the rural areas surrounding DuBois.

As with many other American breweries, DuBois Brewing moved right along until 1918 and the advent of Prohibition. The brewery shifted production to “near beer” and soft drinks and opened the H&G Ice Company. According to the April 7, 1933, DuBois Courier, the brewery won the honor of being one of only two breweries in the entire nation that had never violated or been suspected of violating the Prohibition laws since the 18th Amendment went into effect. As a result, DuBois Brewing Company was issued license number G-2, allowing them to resume brewing immediately upon the enaction of the 21st Amendment.

Frank Hahne died in 1932, and the brewery was passed to his only son, Frank Hahne Jr., whose own only son died in infancy, leaving the family without an heir. Hahne Jr. sold the brewery to Pittsburgh Brewing in 1967.

The brewery was torn down in late 2003.

This biography is from Hahne’s German Wikipedia page:

Frank Hahne had been an orphan at a young age and at the age of 17 he learned the craft of brewing. In 1875 he emigrated to the USA and settled down in Milwaukee , where he found employment in a brewery. A year later he moved to the state of Iowa and worked as a brewer for three more years. With his hitherto saved money he was able to settle in South Dakota and worked for two years in agriculture. He was a beer brewer in Chicago (1881-1887) and Pittsburgh (1887-1896), where he worked as a Braumeister for Eberhardt & Oberbrewery.

In 1896 he moved to DuBois, where he wanted to start his own brewery because of the high water quality. At first, it was not certain whether Hahn’s plans would be accepted by the City Council, but the initial resistance was agreed, and Hahne founded the Du Bois Brewing Company on South Main Street. His business partners were Mike Winter and Jack Weil. Hahne held 51% of the shares in the brewery.

In order to protect the water used in his brewery from pollution, Hahne rose almost nine square kilometers of the area surrounding the local water reservoir.

In 1911 Hahne bought a farm near Luthersburg, Pennsylvania. There he raised Percheron and Holsteiner horses. His orchard was selected by the state as a model factory (English state model orchard).

The Du Bois Brewing Company was at the height of its success when the Prohibition Laws were passed. In the following years, she was only able to produce alcohol-reduced beer and soft drinks.

In addition to the Du Bois Brewing Company, Hahne was also President of DuBois Storage and Carting Company, as well as Director of DuBois Electric and Traction Company and United Traction Company. He also temporarily held the office of J. Mahler Glass Company. In addition, Hahne was a member of the Catholic Church, the DuBois Elks, the Acorn Club of DuBois and the Pennsylvania Brewer’s Association.

Frank Hahne died in 1932, one year before the end of prohibition. His son Frank Jr. took over the management of the company, his daughter Maria became Vice-President.

The Du Bois Brewing Company stayed in business until 1972 when it was closed by their new owner, the Pittsburgh Brewing Company.

And this account is from the DuBois Area Historical Society:

The DuBois Brewing Company started by Frank Hahne Sr., who was born in Neiderfeleris-on-Rhine, Germany, on March 31, 1856. His father was a tenant famer for one of the great German nobles.

Hahne came to the United States at age 19. He went to the Iowa farming region having heard of the need for help in that section. He worked there for a year before moving to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he got a job in a brewery. Later he went back to farming in Iowa and then to Chicago, Ill,. and Pittsburgh as an employee of various breweries learning all the intricicies of that trade. He was brewmaster for Eberhardt and Ober (E & O) in Pittsburgh’s Troy Hill area.

He married Caroline Trum in Chicago in 1895 and they had four children, Caroline, Amelia, Marie, and Frank Jr.

Hahne came to DuBois in 1895 or 1896 to see if the area would be a suitable place to open his own brewery. He requested a public meeting to determine whether or not the business would be welcome.

There was some resistance to a brewery being established. Hahne decided to take his brewery elsewhere, but was convinced to come back for a second meeting where the details were worked out. A newspaper report on March 8, 1932, the year of Hahne’s death, told the story in this fashion:

“The Board of Trade called such a meeting where he with several of his associates from Pittsburgh outlined their project and offered to join with DuBois citizens in establishing a large brewery . . . To show their good faith large sums were forthwith subscribed and paid to the Board of Trade officials with the privilege to DuBois citizens to subscribe such amounts as they might desire. The public meeting was so enthusiastic at the fine spirit shown by Mr. Hahne and his associates that nearly all the business men of the city subscribed to the venture and a charter was applied for.”

Hahne’s partners in his business were Mike Winter and Jack Weil. Hahne owned 51% of the stock in the company and the rest was sold to interested buyers. The brewery opened in 1896 or 1897. The brewery was built by A. D. Orner and included the brew house, outbuildings, ice house, hospitality room, smoke stack, and the Hahne home on Main Street, still a private residence.

By 1906, at least four products – DuBois Wurzburger, Hahne’s Export Pilsener, DuBois Porter and DuBois Budweiser – were being produced. Hahne’s use of the Budweiser name would create legal battles with the giant Anheuser-Busch Brewery leading to several court cases.

Hahne also owned a farm off of what is now Route 322 east in Luthersburg (above), which he purchased from the R. W. Moore estate in 1911. The orchard was selected by the state as a model demonstrating orchard and his 1,800-pound Percheron stallion, DuBois, took many blue ribbons when he exhibited him. He also breed Holstein cattle.

John H. Hayes managed the farm from 1912-25 and Bill Fairman Sr. and Jr. farmed the grounds from 1936-53. DuBois Brewing sold the farm to Milton Sr., Milton Jr., and Gordon Hartzfeld in 1946. Hartzfeld sold his portion of the farm to Crescent Brick Company, who sold it to present owner Larry Baumgardner. Today the farm is a memory, the buildings are gone and the land strip-mined for coal. There is new growth grasses and small trees and the old farm has become home for wildlife.

Ultimately, the DuBois Brewery grew to a point where branches were established in Buffalo, N.Y., and Newark, N. J. The grain that was left over from the beer was dried and sold to farmers to be used as feed for their cattle. Early on, horse and wagon were used for local deliveries, but anything further could only be delivered by the railroad, using boxcars kept cold by blocks of ice.

The Buffalo, Rochester, & Pittsburgh (BR&P) Railway Company served the brewery. Two spur tracks from the mainline crossed over Pentz Run to the complex. The railroad provided there special designated cars for the brewery, white with trademark lettering, that cost the brewery $50 in 1899.

Over 100 employees were on the payroll and the business was at its peak when the 18th Ammendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Prohibition ammendment, was passed in 1918. Throughout Prohibition the brewery stayed open by converting to selling soda pop and near beer; and opening a division called H & G Ice Company. The DuBois Brewery was one of the few in the country not to be cited during Prohibition and one of the first to reopen when Congress passed the 21st Ammendment. The sale of beer became legal again on April 7, 1933.

Unfortunately, Frank Hahne Sr., who died in March 1932, never got to see his brewery reopen. The reopening meant that the skeleton crew of 20 employees, who kept the plant open during Prohibition, increased to 108 with $200,000 a year in payrolls. Carl Waldbisser resumed his duties as brewmaster, the position he held for two decades prior to Prohibition, and Hahne Porter and Hahne Expoert were new products. The company had orders for 3,000,000 bottles of beer when it reopened.

With the death of his father, management of DuBois Brewery passed to Frank Hahne Jr. with his sister, Marie, as vice president.

The DuBois Brewery had many successes and some setbacks defending its right to use the Budwiser name for over 60 years that it brewed a Budweiser beer. Starting in 1905 when the brewery began the use of the name for one of its many beer brands, Hahne Sr. and later Frank Jr. maintained that their major label beer’s name was derived from the original Budvar Brewery of Budweis, Germany, in the present Czech Republic. This was the Royal Brewery of the Holy Roman Emperor dating back to the early Middle Ages. Effective October 31, 1970, however, Frank Hahne Jr. was prohibited from the using the Budweiser name by a Federal Court order.

In 1967, because of no heirs and the fact that he was losing interest, Frank Jr. had sold the brewery to the Pittsburgh Brewing Company for $1 million, as the Budweiser name case was preceding through the appeals process. A temporary production output problem for Iron City and the DuBois competition was eliminated at the same time. Five years later, 1972, the DuBois Brewery was closed forever. The Pittsburgh company had been bound by the terms of sale to keep the DuBois plant operating for those five years. While under the ownership of Iron City, the Budweiser name case was settled with Anheuser-Busch for a reported million-dollar profit for Pittsburgh Brewing, which had won the U. S. Supreme Court decision. So in effect, Iron City Beer got the DuBois Brewery for next to nothing, however over 100 jobs were lost.

The brewery building complex, which had been used by various businesses over the decades since closing as a brewery, was demolished in 2003. Clearfield County took over the largely condemned and abandoned area and tore down the derelict structures that summer. First to go was the H & G Ice Company followed by the stock house, offices, and, finally, the huge main brewery building and smoke stacks. During the demolition, the whole rear side collapsed unexpectedly with a loud crash and a billow of dust. Luckily, the workmen were on a break and no one was hurt. Rubble was piled to make a ramp that enabled the cranes to reach and safely remove the tall smokestacks. The powerhouse and the smaller outbuilding shops were the last to go. A DuBois landmark was gone.

Curiously, the DuBois brewery started marketing a beer under the name DuBois Budweiser in 1905. Not surprisingly, Anheuser-Busch brought suit in 1908, but dismissed it and the two brands were marketed simultaneously until DuBois finally stopped making its Budweiser in 1972, after it was owned by Pittsburgh Brewing. Here’s the interesting story of the two Budweisers, from a Metropolitan News-Enterprise article on Thursday, August 4, 2005

Anheuser-Busch long tolerated the operations of DuBois Brewery, maker of “DuBois Budweiser.” It did sue the small Pennsylvania brewery for infringement in 1908, but dismissed the action without prejudice the following year, supposedly because company president Adolphus Busch was in ill-health and conserving his energies. It wasn’t until 1940 that it filed a new action, 35 years after the introduction of “Dubois Budweiser.”

The Associated Press reported on March 11, 1947:

The DuBois Brewing Co. of DuBois, Pa., contended in Federal District Court Monday that the name “Budweiser Beer” is a geographic and descriptive name and is not the exclusive name of the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Corp. of St. Louis. Judge R. M. Gibson heard arguments in a suit entered by Anheuser-Busch to bar the Pennsylvania company using the name Budweiser for its products. “We have a great mass of testimony to show that where Anheuser-Busch Budweiser and DuBois Budweiser are sold together, there is no confusion,” Elder W. Marshall, former Allegheny county judge and counsel for the DuBois company, declared. “The bartender knows his customers and knows which Budweiser they want,” he continued. “Where a stranger asks for Budweiser, the bartender asks him, ‘Anheuser-Busch or DuBois?’” Marshall said Anheuser-Busch had no exclusive right to the name when DuBois first used it in 1905 and that nothing has occurred since to justify issuance of an injunction against DuBois using the name.

Gibson held on Sept. 9, 1947, that “Budweiser” was not a geographic term as applied to the product of either litigant. The beer of neither brewer came from Budweis. And the word was not a mere description because there was no such thing as a Budweiser process for making beer. It was, plainly and simply, a trade name, he found.

Declaring DuBois to be an infringer in using that trade name, the jurist said:

“In the instant case the Court has had little difficulty in determining that in 1905, when defendant adopted its trade name, the name ‘Budweiser’ identified beer so marked to the general public as the product of Anheuser-Busch.”

As to laches, Gibson wrote:

“While the delay in bringing the action has been great, it must not be forgotten that defendant faced the fact that suit might again be brought when it consented to the withdrawal of the 1909 action, and that since the withdrawal it had notice that plaintiff was not consenting to its use of the trade name.”

The majority of a three-judge panel of the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals saw it differently. Judge John J. O’Connell remarked in his May 12, 1949 opinion:

“Certainly we have found no case in which injunctive relief was granted after an inexcusable delay for a comparable period of time….In our view, this is not merely a matter of laches; Anheuser has been grossly remiss.”

O’Connell said of the dismissal in 1908:

“The conclusion is irresistible that the Association feared the outcome of its 1908 suit, and that the long delay prior to the filing of the instant complaint amounted to at least an acquiescence in use of the word by DuBois, which Anheuser should be estopped to deny at this late hour, if it was not an actual abandonment of the exclusive right as far as DuBois was concerned.”

The DuBois brewery was purchased in 1967 by Pittsburgh Brewing Company which continued to produce DuBois Budweiser. It ceased production in 1972 following an adverse decision in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

The Associated Press reported on Oct. 1, 1970:

A 65-year court battle over the use of the name “Budweiser” by two brewing companies apparently came to a head Wednesday when a federal judge shut off the tap on “DuBois Budweiser.”

Judge Louis Rosenberg ruled in U.S. District Court that the name “Budweiser” is now the exclusive trademark of Anheuser-Busch, Inc., of St. Louis….

The two companies in the past reached several court agreements limiting the area in which the DuBois product could be sold, but each agreement was marred by charges of violation.

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